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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Aug;65(8):858-65. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq066. Epub 2010 May 17.

Serum levels of the immune activation marker neopterin change with age and gender and are modified by race, BMI, and percentage of body fat.

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  • 1Biology of Frailty Program, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



Neopterin, a GTP metabolite expressed by macrophages, is a marker of immune activation. We hypothesize that levels of this serum marker alter with donor age, reflecting increased chronic immune activation in normal aging. In addition to age, we assessed gender, race, body mass index (BMI), and percentage of body fat (%fat) as potential covariates.


Serum was obtained from 426 healthy participants whose age ranged from 18 to 87 years. Anthropometric measures included %fat and BMI. Neopterin concentrations were measured by competitive ELISA. The paired associations between neopterin and age, BMI, or %fat were analyzed by Spearman's correlation or by linear regression of log-transformed neopterin, whereas overall associations were modeled by multiple regression of log-transformed neopterin as a function of age, gender, race, BMI, %fat, and interaction terms.


Across all participants, neopterin exhibited a positive association with age, BMI, and %fat. Multiple regression modeling of neopterin in women and men as a function of age, BMI, and race revealed that each covariate contributed significantly to neopterin values and that optimal modeling required an interaction term between race and BMI. The covariate %fat was highly correlated with BMI and could be substituted for BMI to yield similar regression coefficients.


The association of age and gender with neopterin levels and their modification by race, BMI, or %fat reflect the biology underlying chronic immune activation and perhaps gender differences in disease incidence, morbidity, and mortality.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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